Shiva (Siva) is one of the most important gods in the Hindupantheon and is considered a member of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism with Brahma and Vishnu. A complex character, he may represent goodness, benevolence and serve as the Protector. He is also associated with Time, and particularly as the destroyer and creator of all things.
In Hinduism, the universe is thought to regenerate in cycles (every 2,160,000,000 years). Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each cycle which then allows for a new Creation. Shiva is also the great ascetic, abstaining from all forms of indulgence and pleasure, concentrating rather on meditation as a means to find perfect happiness. He also has a darker side as the leader of evil spirits, ghosts and as the master of thieves, villains and beggars. Shiva is the most important Hindu god for the Shaivism sect, the patron of Yogis and Brahmins, and also the protector of the Vedas, the sacred texts.